May 22, 2011 President Obama Speaks to AIPAC
President Obama spoke to the AIPAC convention today, as one commentator on Israeli TV said, he entered the "den of lions" and tamed them. The President gave an excellent speech that undermined Netanyahu's previous criticism of Obama's Thursday speech.
The speech was divided into two parts. In the first part, Obama laid out his bona-fides as a supporter of Israel, listing all of the ways he is supporting Israel. He then spoke about why there was a need to try to do something to achieve Mid-East peace-- even though he stated clearly that he is not sure there is a Palestinian partner. Finally, Obama clarified his initial statement that a peace agreement needs to be based on '67 borders. He stated that the borders would not be the 67 borders, but rather, borders based on the changed demographic events since 1967; negotiated by both sides. Obama thereby, undermined Netanyahus major statement these last few days that Israel could not return to the 1967 borders. According to all reports the speech was very well received at AIPAC.
President Obama offered Netanyahu stark choices. He did not threaten to withhold foreign military or economic aid, as some Presidents have done. Instead, Obama made it clear how dangerous the diplomatic waters are likely to be for Israel in the coming months. Obama made it clear that if Netanyahu endorsed his views and worked with him, he would do his best to defend Israel in those waters, and he believed Israel would have the best chance of doing so in that way. On the other hand, if Netanyahu did not embrace Obama's plans, Israel would have a much more difficult time navigating those waters.
Netanyahu seems to have realized he has been outmaneuvered. In an interesting moment, Israeli Amabassador Michael Oren was scheduled to appear on TV and at the last moment was told not to appear and to leave the response to the Prime Minister.
Netanyahu did respond by stating "I would like to express my appreciation of President Obama's speech before the AIPAC conference." Netanyahu continued: "I am a partner to President Obama's wish to promote peace and I appreciate his efforts in the past and present to achieve this goal. I am determined to work with President Obama to find ways to renew peace talks."
Next comes Netanyahus two speeches, one to AIPAC tomorrow and one to the Congress on Tuesday. You can read the speech here
I repeat what I wrote last week this is what he should say:
I was brought up believing that Israel has the right to all of the Land of Israel. I fought my entire political life for Israel's right to remain in what we call "Yehuda and Shomron". However I have also learned and understood that you do not receive all that you wish or have a right to in life. I stand before you today stating that I am willing to give up my dream of an undivided Land of Israel and agree to future borders of the State of Israel based on the border of 1967 borders, with appropriate land swaps. That being said, I can only give up on my dreams, if the Palestinians give up theirs. Those holding keys to homes in Jaffa for 60+ years must give up their dreams as I give up mine. Those dreaming that the Jewish state of Israel will disappear must give up those dreams permanently. If the Palestinians will agree to end the conflict, including the dream of refugees to return to the State of Israel I will give up my dreams for an undivided land of Israel. Neither of these dreams can happen, and the sooner we both accept that, the sooner we can learn to live in permanent peace. We have been trying to achieve peace for a generation, the time for partial settlements is over. It is now time to reach a permanent agreement based on the terms I have laid out.